March saw highest interest in news since 2005

According to Google Insights for Search, which “analyzes a portion of worldwide Google web searches from all Google domains,” there was more interest in the word “news” during the month of March than any other month since July 2005.

The graph below shows search volume (for the word news) on a scale from 0 to 100. Volume was 100 in July 2005, and 96 in March 2011. Read about how Insights for Search works to learn more about the graph.

The Google-newsroom conspiracy theory

Search engines must be paying newsrooms to send them traffic. Okay, I’m sure that’s not true, but it feels like it is true when I read articles published by media companies online. Every day, I run into stories that might as well include these promotional bullet points:

  • Please go to Google to find the web site of the company I mentioned in this article.
  • Please go to Google to that report cited in this article.
  • Please go to Google to find more about the people in this article.
  • Please go to Google to learn more about the product mentioned in this article.
  • Please go to Google to find other news organizations’ reports about this incident.
  • Please go to Google to see exactly where this incident occurred.
  • Please go to Google if you want to follow links that don’t just point to our own past articles.
  • My gosh, this list can go on forever!

As a news consumer, I actually hate that I have to go to Google for that information all the time. I want articles to lead me to all that information, much like many blog posts do.

Google gives readers 6,594 more links than 3 news organization

Google links to 6,597 articles related to the three stories atop Google News this morning.

  • In the Wall Street Journal article about Jobs medical leave, you won’t find a single link to the other 174 articles that Google has found about the story.
  • If you read the Associated Press article about the Golden Globe awards you’ll see that the AP doesn’t think any of other related 4,448 articles that Google found are worth linking to.
  • The Fox News article about President Hu’s meeting with President Obama also fails to link to any of the 1,972 links related to that story.

I’m not saying that news organizations should link to thousands of other articles at a time, but wouldn’t it be a great service to the reader if reporters and editors pointed to those articles that would help provide a more comprehensive picture of the story?

A well picked set of 5 (pick your number) related stories could be more useful than the thousands of results that Google returns.

If you don’t already have them in your bookmarks, make sure to visit Mediagazer to see how computers and human editors can work together to provide great sets of links about  a niche topic.

People search less for journalism, more for news

According to Google Trends, people search for the word journalism 55% less than they did six years ago. This chart shows how many searches for journalism have been made since January 2004, using the average during that month as a volume of 1. Number crunchers, feel free to take a look at the week-by-week data.

Chart showing the number of times people searched Google for the word journalism between January 2004 and March 2010

Compare that to the search for the word news, which has held on to an increase of about 10% that it experienced in 2008.

Chart showing the number of times people searched Google for the word news between January 2004 and March 2010

People who use Google for search are looking for a little more news, and much less journalism.

What does this mean?

Do people want less journalism, or are they defining journalism differently? Should journalists start worrying less about journalism and more about news? Should they ignore these numbers? How should news organizations react? How does citizen journalism fit into this picture? Is there an empirical definition of news today?